PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti, Wednesday February 15, 2017 – United Nations troops in Haiti could soon be given their marching orders if a top UN official has his way.
UN Under Secretary General for Peacekeeping Operations Hervé Ladsous told the Miami Herald the multinational peacekeeping forces, which have been on the ground in Port-au-Prince since 2004, were no longer needed and he was preparing to forward that recommendation in a formal report to the UN Secretary General.
“Definitely the military component is not necessary anymore,” he told the Herald.
“Stability is essentially there. Look at the elections at the end of last year. There were incidents, yes, a few, but nothing really serious, and I think nothing that justifies the prolonged stay of regular troops.”
Ladsous reached that conclusion after conducting an assessment of the future of the peacekeeping mission that included talks with the newly elected President Jovenel Moise, lawmakers and political forces.
Ladsous shared that Haitian officials did not reject the idea of the proposed withdrawal of UN troops, making a case for the strengthening of Haiti’s National Police.
Haitian Senate President Youri Latortue told the Miami Herald the UN mission had a duty to put systems in place to “reinforce the democratic institutions…reinforce justice in this country. The second is to help professionalize the police, and third, we, Haiti, have to put in place our own army.”
Lower Chamber of Deputies President Cholzer Chancy underscored that it was time for Haiti to take charge of its destiny, lamenting that the country was too reliant on its neighbours to handle disasters.
“We have to organize ourselves, respect the Constitution…and have an army that is apolitical and more professional than it was,” he said.
Ladsous acknowledged that there was still work to be done but he was confident that Haitian authorities could take charge of their affairs.
He praised the work of the Haitian National Police and said the priority was to make the force “a solid institution”.
Ladsous will make his recommendations next month and the UN Security Council will have the final say when it meets in April in Haiti.